Attention employers and employees: Summer is here! June rolls around and things feel different in many offices. The kids are out of school, the weather is warmer, shorts may be allowed and workplaces begin to see the summer learning shift to casual learning that occurs when the weather is warmer. This is the time when learning in the workplace has tremendous potential.
Even though formal learning programs might be turned down for summer, consider some of these other great learning opportunities.
Employees need to take vacation time. End of story. (Leaders, please encourage real breaks from the workplace.) These short periods away from work offer the opportunities for others to use cross-training skills and expand their role while others are on vacation. Employees get to grow their skills and shrink their colleague’s inbox.
Employees on vacation can also have learning benefits that trickle back into the workplace. Besides being detached from the work world, travelling employees can share their adventures. Employees who like to read can pick up a summer book that may help them with their personal development or simply clear their mind. Here is a list of recommended summer reads.
S’mores and Volleyball
Make the most of company events like picnics or team sports. These types of events allow employees to expand their organizational internal reach through casual networking opportunities galore. If family is included in the events, make sure to bring them along. Company picnics and outings are terrific opportunities for a significant other to meet co-workers or to introduce your kids to your work team. These “lighter” interactions can help the next time you are in a tense meeting that needs an icebreaker or a disruption.
Summer Days and Nights
Ahh, those summer days. More and more, employers are implementing some type of summer hours. Many organizations are seeing that summer hours actually help their business. Employees can use the extra time to catch up on podcasts, take a non-credit class at their community college, or volunteer with a nonprofit.
At work, summer offers great opportunities for creative meeting locations. Try a walking meeting outdoors. Hold your weekly team meeting at the local ice cream shop. Pick up sandwiches and have your meeting around a picnic table in the park.
Long summer nights mean more opportunities to catch up with vendors, customers, or teammates at local outdoor venues. Whether it be a quick drink al fresco or taking in a local ball game, the summer is a great opportunity to mix business and pleasure and hopefully lower your stress level.
While summer downtime should also be used to relax, unwind, and catch up with your family, taking a few minutes for your own personal development is much easier when you are in the right state of mind. Leadership can promote and suggest “cool and casual” learning through communications and doing it themselves. Employees appreciate leaders more when they see them helping out when someone is on vacation or see them sitting outside reading during lunch.
To quote Olaf from Frozen, “When life gets rough I like to hold on to my dream of relaxing in the summer sun just lettin’ off steam!” Use summer as a time to recharge and learn. What is something you or your organization does during summer that gives you more freedom to explore and expand your own personal development?